A Chat With October’s Profile, Peter Cobb, co-founder/senior vice president, eBags
Catalog Success: Where’s your company headquartered?
Peter Cobb: Denver, Colorado. Greenwood Village, technically.
CS: What are your catalog/company customer demographics?
PC: We sell 520 brands of products, everything from luggage to backpacks to handbags to laptop cases. Five hundred and twenty brands, 36,000 bags. So, there’s such a wide variety. And in a day we’ll have 100,000 visitors to our site. I’m saying all this because it’s hard to pinpoint. It’s about 70 percent women; moderate to upper income — household income around $82,000; average age, and I hate using averages because we have retirees buying luggage for retirement and kids buying backpacks for school, but that 30 to 45 age range is kind of the key sweet spot. But we know we do really well with 18- to 30-year-olds, with Dakine and Billabong and North Face and JanSport and Nike and ladies handbags and all that. Educated, professional … it’s about selection, 36,000 bags, and of course convenience.
In our category there’s no Bags R Us — it’s a very fragmented market. If you’re looking for luggage, you may go to a luggage specialty store. If you’re looking for a backpack, you may go to a Big 5 or Oshman’s or Sports Authority. If you’re looking for a handbag, you may go to Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. So you’re kind of all over the place, but at eBags it’s one-stop shopping.
CS: What’s the primary merchandise offered in the catalog?
PC: I’d say that we have four major categories: handbags, luggage, backpacks and laptop cases. Those account for pretty close to 80 percent of our sales. Handbags are a great example, and this gets to the point why I think eBags is successful. We have over 200 brands of purses and handbags; over 12,000 individual SKUs. So if a woman says, “I just want to shop for myself,” maybe browse at lunch while she’s having a brown-bag lunch at her desk, she can click on eBags and scroll away and shop for over 12,000 handbags.
But I want to say, it’s really important to us that it doesn’t stop there, because it’s not just like flipping through pages in a catalog. We try and really advance the experience. An example of that is we have an area called “On the Streets,” where we find emerging handbag designers that can’t make it into a big-box department store — Neiman Marcus or a Bloomingdale’s — but you may find them in SoHo in New York City or the Highlands area here in Denver or Jackson and Fillmore in San Francisco. We find them and have them come onto eBags. We do a video of them; just tell us a little bit about how you got your start and your inspiration, and why your handbag designs are different from everybody else. They send us copies of where they’ve appeared in Vogue or Cosmo or Lucky magazine and we put those in their own personal boutique.
So all of a sudden, this small little designer who can’t really make it in, and thinks she’s the next Kate Spade but no one will give her a chance, we have over 80 of them on our site. That’s what the Internet’s about: discovery. That’s an example of why someone would shop at eBags — the woman in Des Moines or San Antonio or Boise, Idaho can see the same things that are currently in SoHo in New York City.